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The Aussie market is weaker at lunch on Friday with the ASX 200 slipping 35pts or 0.6% to 6,007 despite another solid lead from US markets. The Dow Jones has now risen for five straight sessions while the tech heavy NASDAQ has improved for the last seven. Even with today’s declines, the ASX 200 is still on track for a weekly gain of ~1.3%. Local equity moves have been more muted in recent weeks compared to the three month rally between late March and June.

Leading declines today have been materials, financials and healthcare, three of the largest sectors in terms of market capitalisation. In particular, miners are weighing most even as commodity prices remain at elevated levels. Gold prices are still at all-time highs, holding around US$2,070 /oz while iron ore is at 12-month highs. BHP Group (BHP) is down 0.9% while Rio Tinto (RIO) is falling 2.5%. Gold miners are also in decline with Northern Star (NST) down 2% and Silver Lake Resources (SLR) easing 3%.

The big four banks are weighing on the financial sector. National Bank (NAB) is lower by 1% while the remaining lenders are down at least 0.4%. While one of the largest percentage changes is in Australian Ethical Fund (AEF), which has dropped 15% after IOOF Holdings (IFL) sold 72% of its 19.7 million shares in the company for a total consideration of $74.5 million.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) is falling 0.9% with the insurer releasing FY20 profit results this morning. Premiums from insurance policies rose slightly to $12.1 billion but net profit after tax (NPAT) slumped 59.6% to $435 million, mostly on higher natural peril claims and COVID-19 claim costs.

Elsewhere, REA Group (REA) and News Corp (NWS), which holds a stake in REA, also released profit numbers. Both companies are rising despite reporting falls in revenue and earnings. NWS reported a quarterly net loss of US$401m. Both have been heavily impacted by COVID19.

The AUD remains above 72 US cents despite the RBA’s softer assessment of the Australian economy due to further restrictions in Victoria, as part of its quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy. So far, 3.7b units have traded worth $2.9B. 662 stocks are higher, 537 are lower and 357 unchanged.

Published by CommSec